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2002-12-12: Celta Vigo 2-1 Celtic, UEFA Cup
|Match Pictures | The Road To Seville | Matches: 2002 - 2003 | 2002-2003 Pictures|
Celtic Games - UEFA Cup 2003Estadio Balaidos, Vigo, Spain Third Round, 2nd Leg
- We lost this leg, but still managed to go through. Not the most pleasant team of players we've ever played against, but we're through and that's all that matters
- Celtic went through to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup thanks to John Hartson's away goal in a tense match in Spain.
- It is the first time that Celtic have survived beyond Christmas in European competition for 23 years.
ReviewTo say it was nervy doesn’t nearly do it justice. At times, watching this match unfold was a physically painful experience. However, for those with hearts strong enough to withstand it all, there came a reward for enduring 90 minutes of almost uninterrupted torture. Indeed, while this UEFA Cup tie was intensely frustrating at times, Celtic were, in the main, ‘astonishingly brilliant’. They certainly advance to the fourth round of the UEFA Cup very much on merit, creating history in the process by progressing at the expense of Spanish opposition.
Few were expecting radical changes from the team that were edged out at Ibrox on Saturday, and they weren’t surprised. Rather, Martin O’Neill chose merely to tinker, including Alan Thompson at the expense of Steve Guppy in his starting XI.
And, against a Galician side weakened considerably by the absence of talismanic midfielder Alexander Mostovoi and the prolific Catanha, the Hoops began brightly, forcing a succession of half-chances inside the opening 10 minutes. The best of these arrived in the fifth minute when, having stretched his legs to stride purposefully away from Juanfran, Didier Agathe measured a cut-back for Sutton, who, from 14 yards, should perhaps have done better than merely direct his shot off the legs of the covering Berizzo.
It was to prove a minor turning point for Celta, who, after spending the opening stages camped in their own half, began to show that it’s not by fluke that they’ve risen to third in Spain’s renowned Primera Liga. Indeed, the first signal of the danger which was to follow was posted when Caceras, their captain, returned towards goal a half-clearance by Laursen only to see the ball skid little more than a foot wide of the left-hand post.
However, undeterred and backed by a boisterous home support, Miguel Angel Lotina’s side continued to jab at holes in their visitors’ armoury and, with 22 minutes gone, very nearly drew blood.
Benni McCarthy, teasing and tormenting Bobo Balde, drifted in from the right flank before teeing up Jesuli for a right-foot snapshot, which certainly brought out the best in Robert Douglas. Celtic’s defence was creaking beneath the pressure of Celta’s incessant attacks and, just two minutes later, the same McCarthy-Jesuli combination linked once again, this time to deadly effect.It all stemmed from a short throw-in on the right which, having been worked to the feet of the South African internationalist, was then flicked on to Jesuli, who, having stepped inside his marker beautifully, then enjoyed a bit of luck when his left foot drive deflected into the net off the legs of Laursen.
It was a stunning blow to Celtic and, at this stage, they looked as good as dead in this tie. However, after weathering a subsequent storm of Celta attacks, the Bhoys began to broaden their horizons and plan attacks of their own. Sure enough, when the goal did finally come, nine minutes before the break, it was solely the result of the strength and physical presence of two of the aforementioned forwards. Credit first of all must go to Sutton for rising brilliantly to apply a textbook flick-on to Alan Thompson’s flighted free-kick. From then on, however, it was all about John Hartson, who, after using his backside to barge his marker out of the way, smashed a magnificent right-foot drive beyond the reach of an incensed Pinto.
It was a tremendous finish from the burly Weshman and, with the away goal they so craved now in the bag, the fear disappeared from Celtic’s game. Indeed, Balde was unfortunate not head them in front from another pinpoint Thompson cross as the half drew to a close. However, it was Celta who emerged from the interval the more potent attacking force and, having laid siege to the Hoops’ goal in the moments immediately after the re-start, they re-established their lead in the 53rd minute.
The inventive Gustavo Lopez claimed much of the credit, although Martin O’Neill will no doubt be asking why the Argentinian was not closed down quicker before he rifled in a cross that McCarthy somehow managed to divert home with a flick of his right boot.
For the 4,000-plus Celtic support inside the Estadio Balaidos, not to mention the countless thousands on the edge of their living room seats, it was to signal the start of a forty minute spell so nervy it hurt to watch it. Celta prodded, but O’Neill’s side appeared to be holding firm. They even created the odd opportunity of their own and, with 78 minutes played, Sutton might again have done better than blaze a left foot volley high over crossbar after an indecisive clearance from Pinto. Yet so nerve-ridden was the match at this stage that neither side appeared capable of retaining their composure long enough to mount a serious attack.However, it mattered not when the referee ended the mass biting of nails and tearing of hair with a final whistle which sounded sweeter than any in recent memory.
Pinto, Caceres, Berizzo, Mendez (Vagner, 60), Juanfran, Edu, Jose Ignacio, Lopez, Luccin, McCarthy, Jesuli.
Subs not used:- Cavallero, Silvinho, Giovanella, Jandro, Coira, Coudet
Goals:- Jesuli 23, McCarthy 55.
Booked:- McCarthy, Caceres
Douglas, Agathe, Valgaeren, Balde, Laursen, Petrov, Lennon (Lambert, 56), Thompson, Larsson, Sutton, Hartson (McNamara, 62)
Subs not used:- Gould, Guppy, Maloney, Fernandez, Sylla.
Goal:- Hartson 37.
Booked:- Hartson, Valgaeren
Ref:- Claus Bo-Larsen (Denmark)
Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 21:55 GMT
Celtic edge out CeltaBBC
Celta Vigo 2-1 Celtic
(Aggregate 2-2: Celtic win on away goals) Celtic went through to the last 16 of the Uefa Cup thanks to John Hartson's away goal in a tense match in Spain. Strikes from Mora Nieto Jesuli and Benni McCarthy either side of half-time gave Celta Vigo a 2-1 win on the night but Hartson's 37th minute equaliser won the tie for the Scottish champions. It is the first time that Celtic have survived beyond Christmas in European competition for 23 years. Celtic started positively and were looking to grab the potentially killer away goal. And it almost came in the very first minute. Henrik Larsson broke free in the box and tried to pull the ball back for strike partner Hartson, but Fernando Gabriel Caceres made a vital interception to put the ball wide. The home side looked rattled and the visitors carved out another great chance in the sixth minute.
Didier Agathe skipped past Juan Fran and cut the ball back into the path of Chris Sutton, but his weak shot was blocked by Eduardo Berizzo. The home side took some time to get going but they gave Celtic a warning in the 10th minute. Joos Valgaeren gave away a free-kick after a foul on Gustavo Lopez and from the resulting set-piece he teed the ball up for McCarthy, but he struck his right-footed shot wide. Stilian Petrov then almost got on the end of Larsson's knock-down from Agathe's cross to the far post, but keeper Jose Pinto reacted quickly to jump on the loose ball. Lopez looked a real threat and he fired a dangerous right-footed ball across the face of goal, but his team-mates were unable to convert the chance. But the Spaniards levelled the tie after 24 minutes when Jesuli stepped inside Alan Thompson inside the box and slotted a low left-foot shot past Rab Douglas. After withstanding a period of intense pressure following the home side's goal Celtic started to come back into the game. Neil Lennon had a chance from the edge of the box but he did not get enough power behind his shot and Pinto gathered comfortably. Then minutes later Celtic got the crucial away goal that they were after.
Hartson spun on the edge of the box and sent an unstoppable right-foot shot into the bottom corner of the net. Celta Vigo now needed two goals to go through and Celtic seemed to gain confidence from this knowledge. But it was the home side who hauled themselves back into the tie 10 minutes into the second-half when McCarthy latched onto Lopez's cross to poke the ball past Douglas at his near post. And Jesuli should have given Celta the aggregate lead but he completely miscued from six yards with the Celtic defence in disarray. Celta Vigo had the lion's share of possession but they were struggling to break down a resolute Celtic defence. As the match wore on Celta seemed to lose the belief that they could win the tie and Celtic held on to take their place in Friday's draw.
O'Neill hails history-makersBBC Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 23:38 GMT
Celtic boss Martin O'Neill congratulates Didier Agathe Martin O'Neill hailed his players after Celtic booked their place in the fourth round of the Uefa Cup.
The Scottish champions survived a fightback from Celta Vigo to go through on away goals courtesy of a crucial first half strike from John Hartson. Celtic edge out Celta It is the club's first success against Spanish opposition, and for the first time in 23 years they will be playing European football beyond Christmas. O'Neill said: "It is a terrific effort from the team to beat Celta Vigo over the two legs, but it was a long last 45 minutes.
The players created a bit of history tonight Martin O'Neill "They have some wonderful players, so we needed a great performance to go through. "We conceded a bad goal at a bad time, but we did well to get the equaliser and we hung on in the second half and it was backs-to-the-wall stuff near the end.
And the Irishman added: "It's a great night for the club to be in Europe beyond Christmas and we can look forward to being there again in the new year and full credit to the players - they created a bit of history tonight." O'Neill also said Hartson's goal was the Welshman's best moment so far for the Parkhead side. Gustavo Lopez's deflected goal and a Benni McCarthy strike hauled the Galician outfit back into the tie, but Celtic hung on for a famous result.
O'Neill said: "It's probably his most important goal and it was a typical John Hartson goal. Celta Vigo would have been better winners and deserved to win more than Celtic Celta Vigo boss Miguel Angel Lotina "He has the ability to turn players and shoot very, very quickly. "He showed great determination and scored a great goal which he richly deserves."
Celta Vigo boss Miguel Angel Lotina refused to take the defeat on the chin, and felt his side should have been in the fourth round. He said: "They gave a very good game, but we should have scored a third goal and gone ahead to win the round. "Celta Vigo would have been better winners and deserved to win more than Celtic."
Hartson hammer blow ends Spanish hoodooJesuli 24, McCarthy 54 | Hartson 37
Chris Roberts at the Balaidos Stadium
The Guardian, Friday 13 December 2002 23.05 GMT
The Scottish champions turned the tide of history in north-west Spain last night. Celtic had failed to stay in Europe beyond Christmas for 23 years, and they had never knocked out Spanish opposition.
Celtic, however, recovered quickly from losing their place at the top of the Scottish Premier League with a painful defeat to their greatest rivals Rangers at Ibrox. And their manager Martin O'Neill was able to celebrate from the dugout after being given a reprieve by Uefa after being sent to the stand in the last meeting between these clubs.
Celtic were looking for that all-important early goal and it almost come in the first minute. Henrik Larsson broke free in the box and tried to pull the ball back for his striking partner John Hartson, but Fernando Gabriel Caceras made a vital interception to put the ball wide.
The home side, spurred on by their passionate supporters, took some time to find their momentum but they gave Celtic a warning when Joos Valgaeren gave away a free- kick after a foul on Gustavo Lopez and from the resulting set-piece he teed the ball up for Benny McCarthy to strike his right-footed shot wide.
Stilian Petrov then almost got on the end of Larsson's knock-down from Agathe's cross to the far post, but Jose Manuel Punto reacted quickly to jump on the loose ball.
Lopez looked a real threat and he fired a dangerous right-footed ball across the face of goal, but his team-mates were unable to convert the chance.
The visitors needed the heroics of Robert Douglas to deny the Spaniards in the 22nd minute. McCarthy pulled the ball back into the path of Mora Nieto Jesuli and his right-foot shot was turned around the post by the Scotland goalkeeper.
But there was little he could do to prevent Celta Vigo levelling the tie a minute later in a move almost identical to their last chance. McCarthy pulled the ball back for his team-mate again and this time Jesuli dummied and took the ball on to give himself a better angle but his shot took a wicked deflection of Ulrik Laursen and flew past Douglas.
Valgaeren lost his temper as he was booked for a bad tackle before Pinto produced a great piece of agility to return Petrov's corner over the crossbar.
But Hartson scored a vital away goal for Celtic with an unstoppable right-foot shot into the bottom corner before being booked moments later after a late challenge on Peter Luccin.
McCarthy gave the Spanish side a lifeline in the 53rd minute when he converted Lopez's cross at the near post to put the hosts ahead. But Celtic hung on to erase memories of last weekend.
Celta Vigo: Pinto; Caceres, Berizzo, Mendez, Juanfran, Edu, Jose Ignacio, Lopez, Luccin, McCarthy, Jesuli.
Celtic: Douglas; Balde, Laursen, Valgaeren, Agathe, Lennon, Petrov, Sutton, Thompson, Hartson, Larsson.
Referee: C Bo-Larsen (Denmark).
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